Paul and James: On Justification

The book of James is one of the most important topics to cover when it comes to faith and works. James is believed by many people to contradict Paul, especially in the book of Romans, making the case that works are an essential component to be the evidence of our faith. While James writes that faith without works is dead, just as the body without the spirit is, Paul states that he who does work will not be made righteous; however, those who do not work but believe in him who justifies the ungodly, their faith is counted as righteousness (Romans 4:4-5).

Both Paul and James become clear that they do not contradict each other but how do they agree without excluding one of these two concepts? Since both of them believe that grace comes through faith alone, works would not add to that according to James, who writes:

“You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

He presents the point that even demons believe in the existence of God, so how can works apart from faith be useless? Depending on how you interpret the context of what James says and how Abraham was justified by works, we can settle to a point with Paul. Whereas faith without works is dead only in the eyes of men, not in the eyes of God. If that is the case, how is faith made evident according to what other parts of scripture says about the fruit of the spirit? Most people believe that the fruit of the spirit (or works) means to gradually abandon sin or, by having corresponding actions, to go along with our faith.

One of the most common reasons why people believe you must still abandon sin is told in John’s epistle: “No one who abides in him makes a practice of sinning; for whoever is born of God does not sin; you cannot keep on sinning by being in him.” Since he appeared in order to take away our transgressions, there is no sin in our new creation that’s within us, but as for our mortal body, sin still exists daily; it is part of our natural human instinct.

So works never involve deeds of the law as evidence of faith. Whether good works signify our faith is another matter to look at further. As for our sinful nature, which has broken the law of God, that is what the cross was for—to replace us from dying in the flesh—by his work alone, in order to live free according to the spirit.

If Christ’s righteousness is applied to us, then how can the law itself ever negate self-righteousness? For if you mix the law together, what grace could you receive, if Christ didn’t cover it fully? By his atoning sacrifice, his death, after living a perfect life, was sufficient enough to cover the full penalty. What works can add any value to that establishment for us on earth? We were called to be like him through only one way that can grow. Therefore, we should always look to spread his word through the willingness of the holy spirit.

In free grace theology, contrary to lordship salvation (where one must submit to God), opposes that we must gradually obey the law through the process of sanctification. Neither do good works or deeds of the law ever lay the foundation of our faith; all works are as filthy rags, as stated in the book of Isaiah:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment” (v. 64:6).

However, those without corresponding actions may have denied him by not living according to the heart of the gospel teachings. Only by the fruit of this spirit — love, peace, joy, kindness, patience and forbearance — can faith become evident (Galatians 5:22). Those are the corresponding points to what Paul and James taught on the doctrine of justification.

Overcoming Drug Addiction

Are you enslaved or troubled by habitual use of various narcotic, stimulant, or mind-influencing drugs (including alcohol)? Do you have symptoms of physical, emotional, or mental addiction? You may not have a sickness, but a sin problem that causes enslavement and sickness.

Jesus Christ has done something about your problem. He came to liberate you from such problems and enable you to gain self-control, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).

What Scripture Says

Everything is permissible for me — but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me — but I will not be mastered by anything” (I Corinthians 6:12).

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power, He gives orders to evil spirits and they come out (Luke 4:18-21, 36).

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:15).

He who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (I John 3:8).

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love (Galatians 5:1, 13).

What Can You Do?

Take seriously the bondage in which you are involved. God cares about you and has a solution.

Your real problem is not an incurable illness, but sin. And Jesus came to deal with sin (I Corinthians 5:11). You need to be spiritually reborn and baptized with the Holy Spirit. You need to change your life patterns. You also may need help for deliverance from drugs and healing.

Be bold. Take a fearless inventory of your life. Ask for help from your family, Christian friends, a local pastor, The 700 Club (call 800-759-0700), or another Christian ministry that cares. Or call Teen Challenge or a local drug hotline.

It is said that it takes thirty-one days to break a habit. Drug addiction is a “life dominating” problem, so radical changes must be made regarding associates, social atmosphere, places frequented, etc. Replacement, not abstention, is the key.

You need to keep busy and occupy your mind with new things (Philippians 4:8,9). Learn to yield yourself to Christ rather than to drugs, old friends, self-pity, guilt, fear, etc.

How to be Spiritually Reborn

God has a plan for your salvation. Call on the Lord to save you mind, body and soul (I John 1:9). Receive Him as your Savior and Lord (John 1:12). Believe Him. He said He would not turn anyone away. He loves you and gave His life for you (John 3:16,17).

How you can know you are forgiven:

The Bible, God’s Word says:

You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and you have done nothing on your own (Ephesians 2:8).

For those who put their faith in Jesus: He gave them the right to be the children of God… God Himself was the one who made them His children (John 1:12-13).

The Role of the Holy Spirit

Once you become a Christian, you can have God’s power available through the Holy Spirit. You will be able to live as God intended (Ezekiel 36:27). The Holy Spirit empowers you to help others (Acts 1:8), He aids and teaches you (John 14:26; I Corinthians 2:13), and guides you into truth (John 16:13) and in life (Acts 10:19; 13:2; 16:6).

You may want to ask someone already baptized with the Holy Spirit to pray with you. Just as you asked the Lord to forgive your sins, believing He would, ask Him now to baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). He promised to do so, so take Him at His Word that He does what you ask. Thank and praise Him for being a God who does as He promises.

Tell someone else what you’ve done. Other Christians and the church will rejoice with you and help you. The angels rejoice with you. God rejoices with you.

As You Pray

Thank God for His love, concern, and power to save and deliver. Renounce the drugs, old friends, and hangouts connected with your drug problem. Yield yourself to Jesus. Thank Him for coming into your heart and filling you with the Holy Spirit. Take Him at His word and thank Him for delivering you from drugs.

There Is No Going Around, We Must Go Through!

I had an interesting conversation the other day with my niece and namesake Cheryl (who we call Tulla.)We were talking about life and the things that happen to get us “tied up”, by our own mistakes, sometimes by adverse results of other’s choices and sometimes just by events that happen that are out of our control but still they have the same affect of making us stuck in life.

Tulla and I both love to crochet, (although she is much better at it than I am), her mom (my sister) Diane taught me when I was round 13 years old.

So in our conversation I thought the analogy of yarn seemed to be fitting as I compared our lives to a long strand of yarn, stretching from one end to another. Along the way, there are the inevitable knots that occur, sometimes just one; usually from trying to go too fast or not paying close enough attention to our stitches, but those are easy to fix. Other times there can become a cluster of knots that seem to come from out of nowhere and these are not so easy to fix as they often seem to take on a life of their own, and can be more than frustrating.

We both laughed as we identified with the fact that we could spend hours, even days, trying to loosen, unravel and untie this mess and sometimes the harder we would work at unraveling it, the more the knotted mess would mysteriously grow. The point I was making was that the beginning and the end are distinct and no matter how many knots occur along the way we still end up where God had intended us to be, sometimes despite the knots and sometimes because of them. This reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures in the bible Genesis 50:20, “what was intended for evil, (or to harm me) God will use for good.”

Tulla then said something that really struck us both “yes, and there is only one way to fix the knot, you have to go back through the way you came” there is no other way!” Exactly! I replied!

I sat in silence for a second as I thought about the depth of what she had just said and then she followed up with something we had heard her mom say countless times “there is no way around; only through” referring to going through difficult situations and problems in life. This felt like a very profound moment, almost as if we had uncovered the answer to some mysterious riddle.

I’ve continued to contemplate this and realized that as we journey along the path of life, our disobedience and mistakes can cause knots along the way, tangling up the yarn and diverting us from God’s intended path…momentarily. But rest assured there is nothing that takes God by surprise!

When we find ourselves off course, entangled in the mess of our choices or mistakes, it is essential to recognize that we need to go back the way we came. This is what I refer to as “Full Circle Moments” in life where we are given grace and wisdom to untangle our mess.

Just as we patiently and carefully untangle a knot in a ball of yarn, we must retrace our steps, seeking forgiveness, making amends, and realigning ourselves with God’s will.

Sometimes, untangling the knots requires humility, as we acknowledge our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions. It may involve seeking forgiveness from others or making difficult decisions to rectify the consequences of our disobedience. Just as we gently pull and separate the strands of yarn to untangle a knot, we must be willing to address the issues that caused the entanglement in our lives.

As we untangle the knots, we gradually find ourselves back on the right path, where we were meant to be. It is a process that requires patience, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from our mistakes. We may need to seek guidance from God’s Word, prayer, and wise counsel to navigate through the complexities of untangling our lives.

Ultimately, as we untangle the knots and realign ourselves with God’s will, we begin to experience the freedom, peace, and purpose that come from being in the right place once the course correction has taken place. We discover that God’s grace is sufficient to redeem our mistakes and turn them into opportunities for growth and transformation.

Just as the untangled yarn becomes a smooth, unbroken strand, our lives can be restored and aligned with God’s perfect plan. The journey of untangling the knots reminds us of God’s faithfulness, His willingness to guide us back on track, and His ability to use even our disobedience and mistakes for our ultimate good.

I am praying that we will all embrace the process of untangling the knots, trusting that God’s loving hands are at work, leading us back to the center of His will, where we can experience His abundant blessings and fulfill the purpose He has for our lives.

The Blessings from God

The true blessings come from God Almighty through our Lord Jesus Christ. The devil does not bless, he is just a kidnapper who gives you something into your hands today, but tomorrow he comes back to claim your hand! The devil’s blessings are counterfeit; they are different from those springing forth from God in His dwelling place. It is the blessing of the Lord that enriches and is peaceable, adding no sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).

The Word of God does not compel us to take another path to get rich, to become famous, and to amass money by consulting a marabout, a witch doctor, or an occultist. We are supposed to be satisfied with everything God gives us because the devil is a scammer and kidnapper of human lives‼ The devil is there to kill, steal, and destroy. The devil’s mission is to destroy every good gift which comes from God. He wants to add a little leaven so that the taste of the food or seed from heaven is corrupted for the glory of the devil. There is joy in the camp of the devil when Christians compete with the world for the things of the world.

Ezra Chipatiso

Lessons from Dr. Phil on the Perils of People Pleasing: From a Recovering People Pleaser

Friendship is a beautiful aspect of life that brings joy, support, and companionship. However, when the desire to please others takes precedence over our own needs and values, it can lead to an imbalance in our relationships. People-pleasing, while often well-intentioned, can hinder the development of authentic friendships, further damaging our fragile self-worth.

I was recently reminded of my journey of learning how to avoid the pitfalls of people-pleasing and foster genuine connections by starting with learning to love myself. A dear friend recalled one of our first phone conversations when we discussed people-pleasing. She mentioned an episode of Dr. Phil from years ago, stating that what she learned on that show was “life-changing.” I chuckled to myself, contemplating whether I should tell her that I was actually on that episode. When I finally revealed the truth, her reaction was more exuberant than I had expected. What struck me was that the words she spoke were the same words I used to convince my husband to go on the show with me, despite his initial reluctance. I had said, “What if doing this show could change just one person’s life?” The statement seemed dramatic even to me, but my friend echoed those very words. It made me wonder if I had heard her correctly.

Reflecting on that time, my friend helped me understand why someone might find the advice from Dr. Phil on that show “life-changing.” For me, his advice was indeed profound, and I carried the lessons I learned with me, building upon them over the years.

These are the life-altering lessons, simple yet not easy. The first lesson is about the dangers of people-pleasing. Rooted in the fear of rejection or conflict, people-pleasing involves constantly seeking approval and prioritizing others’ needs over our own. While it may seem like a selfless act, it can have detrimental effects on our well-being, friendships, and self-worth.

Dr. Phil also emphasized the loss of authenticity that comes with people-pleasing. When we constantly strive to please others, we suppress our true selves, leading to a lack of authenticity in our friendships. Genuine connections are built on mutual understanding, acceptance, and respect for each other’s individuality. By sacrificing our own needs and desires, we risk losing our unique identity and becoming mere reflections of others’ expectations. I had to be honest and admit that this was true of me.

Another lesson I gleaned from Dr. Phil was the imbalance in relationships that people-pleasing often creates. In friendships, one person may consistently give while the other takes. This dynamic can lead to resentment, as the people-pleaser may feel unappreciated or taken advantage of. Genuine friendships thrive on reciprocity, where both parties contribute equally and support each other’s growth.

Emotional exhaustion was a realization that came to me when contemplating everything I had learned after the show aired. Constantly striving to meet others’ expectations can be emotionally draining. People-pleasers often find themselves overwhelmed, struggling to maintain a facade of perfection and meet everyone’s demands. This exhaustion hinders the ability to form deep, meaningful connections, leaving little energy for self-care and genuine emotional investment. Moments that should be shared as memorable experiences become blurred, vague memories of overexertion and regret.

Fostering authentic friendships became my mission. I realized that self-awareness and the ability to recognize my own needs, values, and boundaries were essential for my survival. It wasn’t an easy task, and it didn’t happen overnight. Understanding that it is okay to prioritize our well-being and say no when necessary was uncomfortable at first. However, over time, I discovered that by being true to ourselves, we attract friends who appreciate and respect our authenticity.

Communication emerged as another major lesson from this unique experience. Open and honest communication is vital in any friendship, and it became even more crucial with my best friend, my husband, who often took a back seat to those who demanded much of my attention previously. To be authentic, we must express our thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly, while also actively listening to our friends, spouses, and family. Healthy friendships and relationships are built on mutual understanding and acceptance of each other’s perspectives.

Establishing healthy boundaries was and still is one of the most challenging lessons I had to learn. Learning to say no when overwhelmed or when a request compromises our values doesn’t come easy for a recovering people-pleaser. However, boundaries are essential because they create a balanced dynamic and foster respect for each other’s individuality.

Finally, there is the dynamic of mutual support. Authentic friendships are characterized by mutual support and encouragement. We should celebrate each other’s successes, provide a listening ear during challenging times, and offer constructive feedback when needed. By nurturing a supportive environment, we create a space where both parties can grow and thrive.

The most meaningful moment of this experience wasn’t even on camera but during a commercial break when Dr. Phil, known for his sometimes harsh approach, leaned over to me and quietly said, “God made you beautiful, articulate, and intelligent, and you need to believe you are worthy of true friendship.” That moment will be etched in my memory forever because it was life-changing for me. He saw a person who didn’t see her own value and spoke words of encouragement and affirmation, much more than psychological advice. It was as if a father was speaking to his daughter. From that point on, I wanted to give that gift to others who may not believe they are worthy of love.

From a Christian perspective, people-pleasing can be seen as a stumbling block in our faith journey. A powerful passage in the Bible, Galatians 1:10, asks, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” As followers of Christ, our ultimate aim should be to please God rather than seeking validation from others. This is where we find our true self-worth. Jesus teaches us to love one another as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and to prioritize our relationship with Him above all else (Matthew 6:33). By aligning our actions and intentions with God’s will, we can cultivate friendships rooted in love, authenticity, and mutual respect. As we seek to please God, we can trust that He will guide us in forming genuine connections that honor Him and bring joy and fulfillment to our lives.

While the desire to please others is natural, it is essential to strike a balance between meeting others’ needs and prioritizing our own well-being, keeping God as our main priority. Authentic friendships are built on mutual respect, understanding, and acceptance of each other’s individuality. By embracing our identity in Christ and who we were created to be, setting healthy boundaries, and fostering open communication, we can cultivate genuine connections that enrich our lives. Remember, as this wise doctor reminded me, true friends appreciate you for who you are, not for what you can do for them.

Dedicated to Gavi. 💞 Thank you for the reminder that started a lasting friendship for which I am eternally grateful!

How does Presenting Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice relate to Self-Control, Food Addictions, and the Fruits of the Spirit?

In the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 1, Paul urges Christians to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This means that we should offer our entire being, including our physical bodies, to God as an act of worship. It is a call to surrender our desires, ambitions, and goals to God and to live according to His will.

I recently had a “light bulb moment” when I read 1 Corinthians 9:27, where Paul talks about disciplining our bodies. He says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Here, Paul emphasizes the importance of self-control and discipline in the Christian life. He recognizes that our bodies have natural desires and tendencies that can lead us astray, so we must intentionally control our thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Disciplining our bodies involves making intentional choices that honor God and promote our spiritual growth. This may include fasting, prayer, exercise, and avoiding sinful behaviors. It requires us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions and make choices that align with God’s will.

Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice and disciplining our bodies are both crucial aspects of the Christian life. They require us to surrender our desires to God and intentionally live in a way that honors Him. By doing so, we can grow in our faith and become more like Christ.

When it comes to food addictions and self-control, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice and disciplining our bodies take on particular significance. Food addictions can be incredibly challenging to overcome and can have a significant impact on our physical and emotional health. However, by surrendering our desires to God and making intentional choices to honor Him, we can develop the self-control necessary to overcome these addictions.

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit, which include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. By cultivating these fruits in our lives, we can develop the self-control necessary to overcome food addictions and other challenges. This requires us to be intentional about our choices and seek God’s guidance and strength.

We can receive help in this area through the support of our friends, support groups like Warrior Girlfriends, and talented health and spiritual coaches like Cynthia Ray and Jill Janiec. They share their knowledge, wisdom, and God-given expertise, as well as spiritual guidance, with us, along with their own inspiring communities!

Ultimately, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice and disciplining our bodies is about living a life that honors God in all areas, including our physical health. By doing so, we can experience the fullness of the abundant life that Christ offers us and become more like Him in every way.

I am praying for your success in this area as we all support each other in this journey!

A Heart of Gratitude

I’ve recently been thinking about all I have to be grateful for in my life, but even more than that, how much it has impacted me to be on the receiving end of gratitude and even just being in the presence of grateful people.

Feeling appreciated is important to us all. Being recognized for sacrifice and hard work is a fuel that propels us forward and a compass that often allows us to navigate life’s treacherous waters. Gratitude is a powerful virtue that holds immense significance in the life of a Christian. It is not merely a fleeting feeling of thankfulness, but rather a transformative attitude that can shape our perspective, relationships, and overall well-being. When we cultivate a heart of gratitude, we open ourselves up to experiencing the abundant blessings and grace that God has given us.

There are more examples of the profound effects of gratitude in our daily life than can be counted.
First and one of the most important things gratitude creates, is that it deepens our relationship with God. Gratitude is an expression of our faith and trust in God’s providence. When we acknowledge and appreciate the blessings He has given us, we draw closer to Him. Gratitude helps us recognize His hand in every aspect of our lives, leading to a deeper sense of intimacy and connection with our Heavenly Father.

Additionally gratitude shifts our focus from lack to abundance. In a world that often emphasizes what we lack, gratitude redirects our attention to the abundance that surrounds us. As Christians, we are called to be content in all circumstances, and gratitude helps us cultivate a mindset of contentment. It reminds us of the countless blessings we have received, both big and small, and helps us appreciate the richness of God’s provision.

Gratitude also strengthens our relationships. Living in a place of focusing on what we are grateful for, has the power to transform our interactions with others. When we express gratitude towards our loved ones, friends, and even strangers, we create an atmosphere of love, appreciation, and encouragement. Gratitude fosters humility which is essential in helping us recognize the value and worth of those around us. It strengthens our relationships and builds a sense of community within the body of Christ.

It inspires generosity and service. Gratitude is not meant to be kept to ourselves; it compels us to share our blessings with others. As Christians, we are called to be generous and serve those in need. Gratitude fuels our desire to give back, to be a blessing to others, and to share the love of Christ through our actions. It motivates us to be compassionate, kind, and selfless in our interactions with others.

Gratitude actually enhances our overall well-being and should be considered a part of our wellness plan. Numerous studies have shown that gratitude has a positive impact on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When we practice gratitude, our stress levels decrease, and our overall happiness and satisfaction increase. Gratitude helps us develop a positive outlook on life, even in the midst of challenges, and promotes a sense of peace and contentment.

I have concluded that cultivating the habit and awareness of living in a constant state of gratitude is a transformative attitude that will reap rewards for years and even generations to come. So if being grateful has such a profound effect on us and everyone around us. If it deepens our relationship with God, shifts our focus from lack to abundance, strengthens our relationships, enhances our overall well-being, and inspires generosity and service then why are we not more conscious of living in a constant state of gratitude? Well, because it’s impossible to be grateful and hateful or resentful or grumpy simultaneously. We have to choose one or the other.

My prayer for us all is that we choose to begin our day by focusing on cultivating a heart of gratitude. Lets remember to give thanks to God for His immeasurable love and grace, and to express our gratitude to those around us.

Lets choose gratitude and choose to make gratitude a constant presence in our lives, shaping us into the image of Christ and bringing glory to God.

Overcoming Fear: A Christian Woman’s Journey to Trusting in God

As a Christian woman, fear can be a constant battle. We are bombarded with messages of fear from the media, our peers, and even our own thoughts. Fear can be paralyzing, causing us to doubt ourselves and our faith. However, as believers, we have the power to overcome fear through our relationship with God.

One of the most common fears that Christian women face is the fear of not being enough. We may feel like we are not good enough mothers, wives, friends, or even Christians. This fear can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. However, we must remember that our worth is not based on our performance or accomplishments. Our worth comes from being a child of God, and He loves us unconditionally.

Another fear that Christian women face is the fear of the unknown. We may worry about the future and what it holds for us and our loved ones. However, we must trust in God’s plan for our lives. He knows the plans He has for us, and they are plans for good and not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11). We must have faith that God will guide us through any challenges that come our way.

Fear can also manifest itself in our relationships with others. We may fear rejection or judgment from others, causing us to hold back and not fully engage in our relationships. However, we must remember that God calls us to love one another and to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We must trust in God’s love for us and allow that love to overflow into our relationships with others.

Finally, as Christian women, we may fear the spiritual battles that we face. We may feel like we are not equipped to handle the attacks of the enemy. However, we must remember that we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We can put on the armor of God and stand firm against the enemy’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18).

In conclusion, fear is a common struggle for Christian women. However, we must remember that we have the power to overcome fear through our relationship with God. We must trust in His love for us, His plan for our lives, and His power within us. With God by our side, we can face any fear and come out victorious.

Lord, do you care?

KINGDOM FOOTPRINTS

Lord, do you not care?

You may have recently experienced heartbreak, disappointment, or fear. You may have genuine reasons to doubt the very existence of God. You might wonder what kind of God allows good people to die while the wicked continue to live. Why does God allow some to suffer in poverty, sickness, and pain while others waste resources lavishly? What kind of God permits divorce, diseases, and death in the world? Does He truly care?

You are not alone. God can lift you from the depths of worry and concern to the embrace of His love and care.

“And the same day, when the evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us pass over to the other side.’ And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him as He was in the ship. And there were also other little ships with Him. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow. And they woke Him, and said to Him, ‘Master, do you not care that we perish?’ And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4:35-38

Your trials do not define you; they reveal the strength of your faith. God is concerned with how we face adversity.

Life is not solely lived in the light beams of the church worship hall. Life encompasses more than the time we spend with mentors, friends, and family. There will surely be times when our faith is tested, and we may find ourselves asking the Lord, “Do you not care?”

The Scriptures are clear: worry about nothing, but pray about everything.

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6

The disciples of Jesus had faced difficult storms before, but they had never encountered a situation as complicated as this one. Jesus was with them, yet He was sleeping. If the storm grabs your attention, then the Master can still the storm. He is there with you through calm and storm.

God’s silence does not mean He is unconcerned; He is always there with you. Remember, only God can calm the storms of your life. Many things that happen in your life may be unexplainable, but in the midst of the darkest night, Jesus cares for you. Does Jesus care? Oh yes, He cares.

Good Morning

Ubong Usoro

The Importance of Faith In the Life of the Christian Believer

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

What Is Faith?
Faith is a strong feeling of trust in someone or something
For the Christian believer, faith is belief and trust in one God
According to Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

Faith is so critical and important in our lives, as Christians, that it occurs or mentioned 100 times in the Bible – 28 times in the Old Testament and 72 times in the New Testament.

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).
The world or creation itself was founded in faith when God made the following decrees;
“Let there be light” – (Genesis 1:3)
• “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let divide the waters from the waters” – (Genesis 1:6)
• “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered unto one place, and let the dry land appear” – (Genesis 1:9)
• “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yield fruit according to its kind” – (Genesis 1:11)
• The decree continues until the creation of man when God said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” –(Genesis 1:26)

Faith is very crucial in the life of the Christian believer for the following reasons:

1) As Christian Believers, We Live By Faith
Romans 1:17 says “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written: the just shall live by faith”.

Also in Galatians 2:20 Apostle Paul tells us that “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”.

Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, His Son, has been made right. God declared us to be righteous because of our faith in Christ “from faith to faith”
By faithfully trusting in God by our belief in Christ, we are saved and find life not only in this world but eternally.

2) As Christian Believers, We Are Firm In The Faith
Romans 11:20 says “Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded but fear”.
2 Corinthians 1:24 puts it thus, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy, for by faith ye stand”.

Due to faithlessness, the Jews who are the natural branches of the tree were broken off. The Gentile believers have been grafted into the tree like a wild olive shoot. Both the Jews and Gentiles now share the tree’s nourishment based on faith in God. No one can rest on heritage or culture for salvation. The Gentiles should not feel superior to the Jews because if God had not rejected the Jews, as it were, the Gentiles probably would not have had a chance.

3) As Christian Believers, We Combat The Good Fight
1 Timothy 6:12 says “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called and has professed good profession before many witnesses”.

As Christian believers, we must have an active faith, obeying God with courage and doing what we know is right.
It is time for action on your part. What are you waiting for? – Get going, don’t wait!

4) As Christian Believers, We Walk By Faith
2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by Faith, not by sight”.

5) As Christian Believers, We Win By Faith
In 1 John 5:4 where we took our text, we are told that we can overcome whatever challenge life throws on our way, as long as we have faith and trust in God.
It says “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith”.

6) As Christian Believers, We Are Justified By Faith
Romans 5:1 puts it thus, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Peace with God means that we have been reconciled with Him. There is no more hostility between us and God, no sin blocking our relationship with Him. Peace with God is made possible by Jesus paying the price for our sins through His death on the cross.

7) As Christian Believers, We Please God By Faith
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”.

God wants us to have a personal dynamic relationship with Him, and not just a mere knowledge of His existence. After all the demons and witches know that God exists, that does not stop them from doing evil. Those who seek Him diligently will find that they have intimate relationship with Him. When you tell others about the gospel, please encourage them to be honest and diligent in their search for truth and faith in God.

8) As Christians Believers, We Grow In Faith
1 Thessalonian 1:3 says “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God, and our Father”.

Like the Thessalonians who stood firm in the face of persecution, Apostle Paul is admonishing us to also do the work of God produced by faith, labour prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope. These characteristics are the hall marks of an effective Christian believer.

9) As Christian Believers. We Die In Faith
“These all died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers, and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

This world is not our home and cannot live here forever. Many people, especially of the Old Testament, died without receiving all that God promised. However, a good number of them never lost their vision of heaven.
Many of us become frustrated, and defeated when our needs, wants or expectations, are not immediately met on giving our lives to Christ, and therefore want to quit. If you are one of such people, please be patient, take courage from heroes of faith who lived and died without seeing the fruit of their faith on earth and yet, continued to believe (Hebrews 11:36-39).

Some Heroes of Faith Who Did Not See The Fruit Of Their Faith On Earth
Abel and Enoch (Hebrews 11:4-5)
Noah and Abraham (Hebrews 11:7-8)
Sarah and Isaac (Hebrews 11:11, 20)
Jacob and Joseph (Hebrews 11:21-22)
Moses and Rahab (Hebrews 11:23,31)
Boaz (Ruth 2:15-16)

Some Heroes of Faith Who Persevered And Saw The Fruit Of Faith

Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the Prophets (Hebrews 11:32-33)

How To Grow In Faith Through Jesus Christ
“That we henceforth be no children, tossed to and fro , and caused about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).
1) Growing In Faith Begins With The New Birth Through The Word Of God
1 Peter 2:2 says “As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”.

One thing common to all children is that they want to grow up – like their big brothers and sisters or their parents. Similarly, when we are born again, we become spiritual new babies, if healthy, we will yearn to grow. The need for milk is a natural instinct for a baby, and it signals the desire for nourishment that will lead to growth. In the same way, since we see the need for God’s word and begin to find nourishment with Christ, our spiritual appetite will increase and we will start to mature. How strong is your desire for God’s word?

2) As Children, We are Fed With Milk
“For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:13)

Commitment to Christ moves people out of their comfort zones or positions. You cannot grow as a Christian if you remain in the same position instead of applying what you have learned to your situation and teaching others. As a new born Christian, stop your old ways of doing things, fellowship with the brethren and imbibe the new culture in Christ. In this way, you will be able to understand the high-priestly role of Christ.

3) As Adults, We Are Fed With Solid Food
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Your spiritual growth determines your capacity to feast on deeper knowledge of God (solid food). More often than not, we want God;s banquet before we are spiritually capable of digesting it. As we grow in the Lord and put into practice what we have learned, our capacity to understand will also grow.

4) Many Remain Eternal Christians
Hebrews 5:12-14 tells us “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”.

In order for us to grow from baby Christians to adult or mature Christians, we must learn discernment. We must train our consciences, minds, senses and our bodies to distinguish between good and evil. Can you recognise temptation before you? Can you tell the difference between correct text of Scripture and a mistaken one?

5) We Should All Grow And Become Adults
Ephesians 4:13-14 admonishes us to walk in unity.
Working together, the church can express the fullness of Christ – Ephesians 3:19
Christ is the Truth – John 14:6
The Holy Spirit who guides the church is the Spirit of Truth – John 16:13
Satan, by contrast, is the father of lies – John 8:44

As followers of Christ, we must be committed to the truth. This means that our words should be honest and our actions should reflect Christ’s integrity as well. We should realise that speaking the truth in love is not always easy, convenient or pleasant. However, this is very necessary if the church is going to do Christ’s work on earth. Remember that YOU are the church.

6) The Lord Looks After Our Growth
Ephesians 4:11-13 says “And He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors, and some Teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

The Holy Spirit has given every Christian a special gift for building up the church. Now that we have these gifts, it is imperative we use them. If you know what your gifts are, please look fo opportunity to serve the Lord and use them. If you do not know, ask God to show you, perhaps with the help of your Pastor or other Christian friends. The enormous responsibility the church has includes preaching, teaching, evangelising, healing, giving, nurturing, administering, building, etc. God has called us as members of His body to perform this responsibility. Together we can obey God more fully than anyone alone. Working together, in unity, the church can express the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:19).

7) The Word Is The Best Way Of Generating Our Growth In Faith
Acts 20:32 puts it this way “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified”.

Like he prayed for the Ephesians in this passage, Apostle Paul is also praying for and commending you and I to God and His Word that the more we know Christ (our model), through the word, the more we will be like Christ. Study Jesus in the Gospel to see what He was like on earth. Personal knowledge of Christ through the Word will greatly change our lives. How much of His Word do you know? How much of Him are you willing to learn?

Until you invite Jesus Christ into your life (being born again) God’s continued presence can never abide with you. Today, accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour. Ask Him to have mercy on you and forgive your sins and become the Master and Ruler of your soul, henceforth.
If you have backslid, retrace your steps back to Him right now and rededicate your life to God. However, if you have a living relationship with God, then tell others about Him – how much He loves us, He is our Savior, Redeemer and He died for our sins in order that we might not have to face the punishment that we rightly deserve. He is coming back the second time to take with Him all those who believe and accept Him, by faith, into their lives to live with Him eternally.
Congratulations if you have just accepted Jesus Christ into your life. Now look for a Bible believing church in your neighborhood to attend and you will be taught and grow in the Word of God.

God Bless You.       

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